Rummaging through a friend’s bookshelves is a great pleasure. I knew William Stafford’s name but not his work. Here are two of this poems – first, Passing Remark and second, Looking for Gold:
In scenery I like flat country.
In life I don’t like much to happen.
In personalities I like mild colorless people.
And in colors I prefer gray and brown.
My wife, a vivid girl from the mountains,
says, “Then why did you choose me?”
Mildly I lower my brown eyes—
there are so many things admirable people do not understand.
Looking for Gold
A flavor like wild honey begins
when you cross the river. On a sandbar
sunlight stretches out its limbs, or is it
a sycamore, so brazen, so clean and so bold?
You forget about gold. You stare—and a flavor
is rising all the time from the trees.
Back from the river, over by a thick
forest, you feel the tide of wild honey
flooding your plans, flooding the hours
till they waver forward looking back. They can’t
return; that river divides more than
two sides of your life. The only way
is farther, breathing that country, becoming
wise in its flavor, a native of the sun